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Cool Season Garden Tips!

Guest Blog Post from Katie Batazzo of Front Yard Fresh!

Katie has been an intern and later part of the farm crew at Earthly Delights Farm. She has an intensive gardening system that's designed to be easy to work with and maintain, starting small and fresh from home!

March 6, 2022  

Cover Crop Katie B.

It's the beginning of third winter here in Idaho but my heart is set on spring so this week I'm spending some time outside assessing my garden beds for the upcoming cool planting season!  In two of my beds, I grew winter cover crop consisting Austrian winter peas, oats, balanza clover, arugula, daikon radish, and vetch.*  Today I started digging the cover crop up and turning it in. I'll let this bed rest for another three weeks before I begin to plant. 

Adding Compost

I have been warming the soil in three of my seven raised beds with plastic and row cover all winter.  The soil is thawed and ready for some seeds!  First, I add compost to the beds to increase the level of soil in the bed and to add nutrients.  Then, I'll direct seed carrots, radish, beets, spinach, bok choy and snap peas. 

The Plate Method

I know where to seed them because I used the plate method to visualize my spacing.  I use intensive planting methods and categorize plants by their size and duration to get the most productivity out of my beds.  I use different plate and circle sizes to represent those plants, then I place plates directly in the bed to visualize my spacing. 

 Plate Measurements

1 large dinner plate = 1 large plant (Examples, tomato, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant). 1 square foot of plant space
1 medium salad plate = 1 medium plant (Examples Chard, spinach, beets, bok choy, onions).  4-6 plants can fit in one 1 square foot (or 1 dinner plate) of space
1 small narrow mason jar lid = 1 small plant (Examples carrots, loose leaf lettuces, radish, spring onions, arugula) 10-16 plants can fit into 1 square foot (or 1 dinner plate) of space.


Once I have categorized my plants and I have an idea of where I want to place them, I use the plates directly in the bed to visualize where I want everything to go.  I can begin to seed in the planned spaces and make notes.  Because I'm not planting everything yet, this is a great tool to use when you anticipate planting a crop somewhere and you want to save room for it.  After sowing my seed, I will continue cover my beds with plastic and row cover, especially considering some very cold temperatures happening this week!  I'm hoping this will help keep the soil warmer to speed up germination.  

 Lastly, I've noticed my garlic is popping up!  I've removed the mulch to give it room to grow.  Soon, I'll be seeding the Snake River Seed 30 Day or Less collection in between my garlic rows to take advantage of the bare space while I wait for my garlic.  These short duration small plants are great for limited space!

 If you want to learn more about planning a great cool season vegetable garden and practice the plate method, you can join Front Yard Fresh in an experiential workshop on Saturday March 26, 2022 from 1-3 pm.  The best way to learn how to garden is to have your hands in the dirt and be in community with others.  We hope to see you there.  

Grow a Cool Season Garden!


*SRSC does not carry some of the great cover crop varieties mentioned here, but we do have clover, arugula, sweetvetch, and buckwheat (which can be used to break up heavy soil, though it is mainly used for green manure).